“but this isn't a good person” - Narrator
An unnamed vigilante snatches a hood wearing individual off a deserted rain drenched street, clearly with some retribution for previous crimes in mind. The victim has previously killed someone and our Downunder Dexter has more information on that crime than you would tend to pick up via coverage in the local rags.
Confronted with his crimes our victim shows some remorse but that's not going to save him from his punishment. You'll have to read the comic to find out what happens next, but I can guarantee it's going to swing into a resolution you wont expect. Great twist in this one folks.
Faceless is told from the point of view of the vigilante who narrates and otherwise informs the reader of what is going down. Charlton leaves the narrator under developed so we have no idea who he is or what his name is or even why he decides to take retribution on his intended victim. This isn't part of the understanding of Faceless, as the name implies we're talking a force of nature rather than someone we should begin to understand in any meaningful way. Our antagonist remains a mystery throughout. Charlton even goes so far as to leave the face of his antagonist blank, more on that later as I believe it goes a long way to explaining the book.
What I found particular interesting about the Faceless script, and quite possibly due to being a veteran of Dexter on both page and screen, was the notion of the avenging force who acts as a sort of anti hero in the murky shadows of society. We don't have enough information to decide on motives, but it's clear our vigilante has a cynical view on life, “the world is an unjust place”, and has done quite the research on his intended victim. Of course it could be argued, because we don't know, that we're dealing with a family member or close friend of people caught in the periphal shock damage of the original crime. Where Christopher Charlton adds interest to his script is in having the twist ending, no spoilers folks, which takes Faceless away from the realm of cut rate Dexter or Hannibal Lector knock offs. There's a moral element to the story that raises it beyond initial expectations. Clearly Christopher Charlton has given quite some thought to what he is presenting to the world.
I mentioned above that Charlton leaves his antagonist's face as a blank canvas, and there's a good reason for this in my opinion. One of the interesting issues Dexter raised through series two was whether or not the central character should be viewed as a force for good, or whether Dexter was as evil as his victims. It returns to the old debate about capital punishment of course, and I leave it to the individual reader to make his/her mind up about the morals involved there. Charlton goes further and leaves his character as a mirror, where the reader is invited to reflect their own face onto the canvas, yes I know an entirely risky strategy give the low attention spans prevelent in society. Charlton directly asks the reader what they would do in the same circumstance, and then, devastatingly for some readers I'm sure, provides his own answer. So no don't expect an easy read here, there is no light entertainment involved, just some hard questions.
Of course I could be completely wrong here and Christopher Charlton might just be telling a yarn, nothing more nothing less. Read the comic and make your own mind up.
Christopher Charlton as an artist steps up to the plate and delivers on the script he has going down. We're talking black and white panels enhanced with gray shading. Weirdly I was reminded of the old photographic negatives, it's not a good comparison, though I have a vague notion there's a name for the art style in use. For our purposes I would call it urban noir, it has that gritty Aussie urban character, maintains a minimalistic flavour in each panel, yet yeilds an overriding gothic feel. Or, it looks pretty cool and focuses the eye on the important aspect of each frame.
So I kind of dug Faceless and was definitely all up on the script delivering a surprise twist to the tale of the urban vigilante. Charlton's artwork remains an entirely interesting take on how to construct a comic from a script that isn't forthcoming in wordage, yes the art does work to drive the narrative forward. I would definitely be up for additional chapters in the story, assuming there's a plot arc going down and not a one off book here. Check out Faceless, the comic definitely comes as a recommended addition to your reading list in 2011.
Faceless is available from Publisher Siberian's home site.